Did you know caffeine has a half-life of six hours? That means if you drink a cup of coffee at 4, it will still be in your system at 10.
One study found that caffeine consumed six hours before bed had the potential to reduce sleep time by an hour. If you're particularly sensitive to caffeine, this could be more.
This is because caffeine blocks our adesonine receptors (the chemicals that make us feel sleepy), and can also interrupt our circadian rhythms.
Coffee affects everyone differently (we all have that relative that can drink a double espresso after dinner and fall straight to sleep), so it's worth experimenting and seeing what works for you. However, if you're someone who often struggles to fall asleep, skipping your afternoon coffee might help, as might taking a Reishi mushroom supplement!
8. Watch your alcohol intake
Although it has a sedative effect, alcohol tends to disrupt the quality of your sleep. In particular, it interferes with REM sleep: that deeper, more restorative sleep cycle that experts believe plays a key role in memory consolidation.
There's also a link between frequent alcohol intake and insomnia, with studies suggesting that those who drink often tend to have more trouble sleeping, and may feel they need alcohol to fall asleep, resulting in a vicious cycle of dependency.
So although it may feel like that evening glass (or three) of wine is your friend, it might be doing more harm than good to your sleep routine.
9. Address your anxious thoughts
If it's not caffeine keeping you up at night - it might be anxious thoughts.
Do you ever find that as soon as your head hits the pillow at night, you're suddenly confronted with all your worries, past regrets and future fears?
Often, these things come up at night because we don't allow them any space during the day.
We spend our days distracted: glued to our screens and perpetually occupied with work, podcasts, music, Netflix - all of which take us out of our bodies and away from our thoughts.
Here are some techniques that can help you to address your anxieties earlier in the day and stop them seeping into your bedroom at night:
- Worry time: allow 15 minutes each day to fully focus on your worries. You can write them down, tell someone else about them or simply confront them in your mind. Devoting this time to your anxieties should step them feeding into the rest of your day (or night).
- Get it on paper: Keep a notebook by your bed so that you can write down anything that comes to your mind and hopefully let it go.
- Talk it out: If you're often awake a night with a busy mind, consider speaking to a therapist about what's going on for you. It may be that you have some unresolved anxieties and would benefit from some professional support.
10. Try meditation
Meditation can have a huge impact on the quality of your sleep, and is often suggested as a treatment for insomnia.
Essentially, meditation lowers your heart rate and brings the body into a parasympathetic (relaxed) state, which can help to calm the nervous system and prepare your body and mind for sleep.
If you often have a racing mind at night, meditation also provides a space to acknowledge, sit with and let go of any difficult feelings or thoughts that might otherwise disrupt your sleep.